You can shack up at Fort Hood.

And you don’t ever have to go to basic.

That’s because the Texas military installation — one of the largest in the entire world — is experiencing severe vacancy (after the shrinking of the branch in the wake of the military’s slow exit from both Iraq and Afghanistan) and has resorted to renting its living spaces to people who have absolutely no affiliation with the army, let alone the armed forces.

The monthly bill comes in at around $1,000 — and the location comes with all the trimmings: front row seat for morning runs, taps, tanks — the works, really.

The decision, baked into the Army’s contract and set in motion when the occupancy numbers hit a specific low, isn’t extremely popular with the soldiers who have to stick around. Especially with the facility’s recent history with shootings.

This from

Brian Dosa, Fort Hood’s director of public works, said the Army has received “mixed reactions” from soldiers.

“We would prefer to have strictly military families living in our villages,” Dosa said. “But I don’t think it’s a major impact … that we now have some civilians. The numbers are pretty small.”

Just like their soldier-neighbors in the family housing areas, the newcomers are allowed to keep guns in their homes, Fort Hood spokesman Chris Haug said. (Single soldiers living in the barracks cannot keep guns in their residences.)

Haug said the gun policy isn’t a security risk because there are rigorous safeguards for the new residents, who must go through two layers of background checks — one by the housing company and another by the Fort Hood Directorate of Emergency Services — and register any firearms they bring on post with Fort Hood authorities.

“They’ve had two background checks for everyone in their family over the age of 18. That’s more than your neighbor has,” Haug said.

The vetting of civilian neighbors may sound good on paper, hell, it’s no doubt a wise and necessary step to take, but as anyone who’s gone through airport security in America knows, in no way a foolproof system.

Sounds like the Army’s going to have to do some revising when it comes to gun policy — to even things up (i.e. allow single soldiers to keep guns in their barracks also?)